A Delta 2 rocket carrying a GPS satellite for the Air Force is on its way into orbit.

The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral early Saturday without a hitch. It momentarily lit up the star-studded sky, despite earlier concerns that thick clouds and rain might postpone the launch.

The third-generation GPS satellite is about 6 feet by 34 feet, a little smaller than an average sailboat. At nearly 4,500 pounds, it weighs about the same as a minivan.

The GPS satellite has a life expectancy of about 8 1/2 years, though the equipment it is replacing is more than 15 years old.

The GPS technology is designed to make navigational applications more accurate for the military and civilians.